Without a doubt, information about chemicals has improved significantly over the years. IPM (Integrated Plant/Pest Management) and chemical safety are important factors according to Nia Frost, Technical Manager, Plant Protection Products, Scotts Professional
Many chemicals were used for many years without adequate information about their hazardous properties or the risks involved in their short and long-term use. Improved information about chemicals has enabled the end-users to educate themselves about the risk, identify chemicals which require extra caution and to take measures to protect themselves and others.
Here are some factors that have influenced greater chemical safety on the golf course:
Legislation has been one of the key influences in regulating chemical use. The EU review of control products is probably the single most influencing factor affecting the access to control products for turf and amenity managers. The review is actually officially known as EC Directive 91/414/EEC and its aim is to ensure that all pesticides on the market before 1991 meet present day safety standards.
The review was initiated to:
• Harmonise national arrangements for authorisation of Plant Protection Products within the EU
• Ensure that all countries operate to high standards
These were implemented in UK by Plant Protection Product Regulations (PPPR) 1995, and the use of European data for national registrations.
Health & Safety/COSHH Assessments
The management and maintenance of golf courses rely on a wide range of tasks, each of which may present associated hazards or risks to the health, safety or welfare of employees and visitors.
The Health & Safety Executive published guidance on this subject in 'Health and Safety in Golf Course Management and Maintenance' (HS(G)79).
This document advises setting a clear Health & Safety policy, carrying out risk assessments and control, providing adequate training, the monitoring and review of working practices, effective communication and the recording, reporting and investigation of workplace accidents.
Certain hazardous substances used on golf courses (e.g. pesticides) may require an assessment of risks under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH). Deciding what precautions are required, and then preventing or controlling any risks follows this.
Only approved pesticides should be used and labels should include a MAPP or HSE number. The 'conditions of use' should always be followed and anyone working with pesticides must be competent, having obtained their PA qualifications. Ongoing training of the spray operators is essential.
New Product Development
New chemical control products entering the market have to meet stringent new guidelines laid down by the EU, so it's fair to say that any new products will be the most efficient and safest products ever seen in our industry.
Most new chemical actives now have a more efficient formulation and therefore a lower application rate, resulting in fast uptake, low residues and less active ingredient needed for control. This greatly minimises the amount of active ingredient released into the environment during application and reducing the risk of mammalian toxicity.
Heritage and the new fungicide Banner Maxx have one of the lowest use-rate ranges in the turf grass fungicide market offering several significant advantages to the spray operator. These include
• Low acute toxicity
• Low use rates, reducing the amount of product handling
• Non-neurotoxin, non-carcinogenic and non-oncogenic
• Not readily absorbed through the skin
• No buffer zone required
Local Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticides (LERAP)
Buffer (no spray) zones are important. Some pesticides are very toxic to aquatic life. Without effective buffer zones many sprays may not remain on sale. LERAPs provide greater flexibility in the application of buffer zones without additional restrictions and they only apply to those pesticides that have a buffer zone restriction.
Integrated Plant/Pest Management
IPM has been around for a long time, especially in the horticultural industry but, with increasing environmental concerns, reduction of current pesticides and tighter legislation concerning chemical use has resulted in an increased interest in an IPM approach to managing turf.
Most greenkeepers are carrying out some form of IPM to a greater or lesser degree. An IPM plan is an actual document that sets out how an overall approach to IPM can be implemented and managed on your particular turf area.
It is designed to help you manage your course in a more proactive and environmentally friendly way without sacrificing the quality of your turf.
So how do you make an IPM plan?
There is no set example of how a plan should look or how it should be set out, it really depends on how much time you want to put into making and working with it.
The following points should form the basic structure. Each point should make up a separate section of the plan. As much information as possible should be gathered and included for each point, including maps of the turf area and photographs of diseases and affected areas.
• Site assessment - Understandin conditions that favour the pest - unique to your turf area. Map the area to be managed in the plan.
• Monitoring - Accurate identification needed of pest, map specific areas of responsibility for the person monitoring, giving training.
• Setting thresholds - how little/much is acceptable to staff/golfers.
• Identifying management options: cultural, biological, genetic, chemical - how should each one be used and to what degree?
• Building pest profiles - type of disease, conditions that favour it, treatments to eradicate it etc.
• Proactive turf management - outline how you are going to treat the problem and document work you carry out to eradicate the pest.
• Evaluation - monitoring the plan. Did the treatments work? Can anything else be done to improve conditions? Continually updating the plan.
Scotts are committed to helping turf and amenity managers manage their sites in a proactive and environmentally friendly way. This means providing advice and information to help prevent attacks in the first place.
Application Technology and Equipment
Application equipment has played a huge part in improving the efficacy of chemical usage and in protecting both the operator and the environment.
The efficacy of a chemical application is clearly dependant on the chemical itself, as well as its formulation as I've already mentioned but, most important, is the delivery to the target site.
Here are some examples of efficient application technologies:
• Low-drift nozzles
• Better boom suspension
• Re-circulating systems
• Pre-mix tanks, less handling of active ingredient
• Shrouded (covered) booms
• Computerised calibration systems
Regardless of these major developments, all users of chemicals are responsible for their safety and this should never be compromised. Regular, appropriate training, having a good understanding of the products you apply, selecting the right equipment and taking a proactive approach to chemical usage is essential for the safety of, not only end-users, but for the general public and our environment.